Pfeiffer, John, 1920-1996

Alternative names
Birth 1920
Death 1996

Biographical notes:

Biographical/Historical note

Jascha Heifetz, legendary American violinist, was born in Vilnius on February 2, 1901. His first teacher was his own father, but he also studied with Elias Malkin before being accepted into the St. Petersburg Conservatory in 1910. He studied first with Leopold Auer's assistant, Nalbandyan, and then with Auer himself. Heifetz had impressed audiences from the age of six when he performed Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto. At the age of ten he performed in St. Petersburg, and his highly successful Berlin debut took place on May 23, 1912. Later that same year he performed with the Berlin Philharmonic under the direction of Arthur Nikisch. In 1917 Heifetz was offered the opportunity to perform a concert tour of the United States, and on October 27 that year he made his Carnegie Hall debut. In 1925 Heifetz became an American citizen.

During the early 1920s Heifetz performed in England, Australia and East Asia, and later in the decade he performed in Palestine. In 1934 he made a return concert visit to Russia. After the Second World War Heifetz reduced the number of his concert appearances although he made notable appearances with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra in 1967 and at Carnegie Hall, where he performed collaboratively three times in 1964 with several artists, including Piatigorsky. Other musicians with whom Heifetz collaborated in chamber concerts were Emanuel Feuermann, William Primrose and Artur Rubinstein. Beginning in 1962, Heifetz taught at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles and was the first faculty member to hold the Heifetz Chair in Music which was established in 1975.

Throughout his life Heifetz made numerous recordings on major labels such as Columbia, Decca and Gramophone, but the largest number of recordings he made were for the Victor/RCA Victor label. He composed music himself and also wrote numerous transcriptions for the violin. Under the alias Jim Hoyle, he wrote the hit song "When You Make Love to Me (Don't Make Believe)" which was sung by Bing Crosby. Heifetz also commissioned and performed several new concertos, of which probably the most well-known is the Violin Concerto by William Walton. Other concertos commissioned by Heifetz include those by Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, Erich Wolfgang Korngold, Louis Gruenberg and Arnold Schoenberg (which Heifetz never played).

The supreme artistry of Jascha Heifetz is undisputed, and his name has become synonymous with absolute perfection in violin playing. During his lifetime he owned more than one Stradivarius violin, and although his last public performance took place in 1972, he continued to play up to the end of his life. Heifetz died on December 10, 1987 in Los Angeles.

From the guide to the Jascha Heifetz Collection, 1911-1972, (Archive of Recorded Sound, Stanford University Libraries)


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  • Symphonies
  • Concertos (Violin)
  • Orchestral music
  • Violin and piano music
  • Piano trios
  • Sonatas (Violin and piano)
  • Violin music
  • Test pressings (Sound recordings)
  • Violin with orchestra
  • Violinists--United States


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